“Teacher, where are you staying?”
asked two would-be disciples of Jesus. His reply was cryptic and indirect, as it often was, but Jesus’ answer to these men who would become two of his closest companions seems to be the same response to all his would-be followers. A simple, honest invitation:
Come and see.
In the last year, you’ve helped us plant a youth-led church at New Horizons. Each Friday at 11am, Betterlife Church’s The Gathering breaks the holy bread & wine of every youth-focused ministry, pizza and soda, before delving into an hour-long discussion on various Christian themes.
At a recent service, I was struck by the fact that, for a few dedicated youth, The Gathering has become a sanctuary of sorts, so much so that they arrive early to help set up, attend weekly meetings to plan each service, and engage deeply with each week’s topic of discussion.
One of the most committed members and one of the very first to help create the church is a young man named Adam.
Adam’s Weekly Altar
Adam sets up an altar every week, though hardly anyone ever chooses to kneel or pray at it. Still, it has become a sort of visual anchor, an Ebeneezer, at the center of each service. Its gently wavering light dances softly into the air, rising as though an illuminated collection of prayers from the saints pictured on the side of each candle.
Are they praying for God to be here, to be present with us? I wondered, amused.
Whether the saints were praying or not, I think God was there. I think God is there, every week.
As I sat there, hypnotized by the flickering light of this altar at the center of the room that seems to serve no real purpose, yet somehow very much does, set up faithfully each week by a young man whose life has been fraught with injustice & pain, the curiosities and questions of intelligent minds and lonely souls began to fill my ears, and I thought of this story about two men who once, too, sought after Jesus.
Teacher, where are you staying?
Essentially, Jesus, how and where do we find you?
Looking around the room at the ten or so young people engaged in dialogue led by the youth chaplain, all so curious, so full of ideas, so eager to discuss, to learn, to find – it was then I knew the most powerful offering of The Gathering is not the discussions themselves, the sacramental pizza and soda, or the extra time off the concrete streets on a hot summer afternoon – though each of those things are beneficial in and of themselves.
No, the real power of this space is that it is a place where youth who boldly approach and ask, Jesus, how and where do we find you? – as Jesus’ earliest disciples did – may encounter the invitation of Love: come and see.
And just as Jesus was faithful to show his disciples what they asked for, so too will Jesus be faithful to show these curious minds what (that is, Who) it is they ask to see.
-meredith, chief storyteller
This story is part of our 2017 Annual Report, available online now. Learn more about Adam & youth who have found resources & relationships at New Horizons this year with your help.